November 21, 2017

Higher Education and Our Daughters

Dr. Kevin Schaal

It has been 12 years now since I wrote this article. The little girls mentioned are now 23 and 20. Rosemary works as an RN at a local hospital. Emily is in her sophomore year of college as a Math Education major.

When I look into the faces of our two daughters, Rosemary (9) and Emily (7), I am often reminded of the huge task that Sandy and I have in preparing them for the future. It really is an odd time to be raising daughters because so much of the world’s philosophy concerning girls is skewed. Somehow, we must plow through all the muck the world teaches and develop a biblical philosophy for preparing our daughters for the future.

We run the risk of going out of balance in two ways in educating our daughters.

The first is to buy into the world’s philosophy that fulfillment for a young lady is found in a career or in the ability to achieve a certain level of income. Every young woman’s first responsibility is to God — to serve Him with all of her being. It is from this commitment that all other responsibilities flow. Even today, much of what is the most valuable Christian service is not considered career-like. Our daughters will also have the responsibility of being good wives (if they marry). The most important earthly relationship is marriage. It is on this relationship that the home is built. Why is it that we spend so much time preparing our daughters (and sons for that matter) to earn a living, but so little time in preparing them to be good wives (or husbands)?

Your daughter also bears responsibility for her children. Children are not a hobby. We have been very candid over the years in emphasizing the importance of raising your children yourself. I cannot tell you how many times another pastor has suggested that we start a daycare because “it brings in a lot of income for other ministries.” Our church is not in the money-making business. That is why, in our own family, we have chosen for Sandy to stay at home and be a full-time mom. It’s a biblical responsibility and a glorious occupation (even if it doesn’t bring in a paycheck). Many of you have made the same decision. We, like you, have grimaced every time we have heard the “that’s nice for you, but we just can’t afford it” excuse from someone who has significantly more primary income and a more lavish lifestyle. We have also flinched when some moms — with amazing candidness — explain that they work because they want to get away from their children. Our daughters need to know that being a wife and mom is a high and glorious calling and a God-given responsibility (don’t forget to stress the importance of this to your sons, as well). There are many women who leave their preschool children with babysitters daily only because they are submitting to the will of their husbands.

We can become unbalanced in a second way. Some who have very strong views about their daughters learning to be stay-at-home moms sell their daughters short educationally. I remember talking to someone not long ago who thought that a high school education for boys ought to be college-prep oriented, while girls only need basic vocational skills because college is necessary for boys but not for girls.

This idea is dangerous because it fails to consider the primary purpose of education. The purpose for education for a believer is to equip him or her to serve God. God deserves to have servants trained to their best abilities. They need a proper Christian world view. Their minds need to be sharpened. They need to be able to interact with the lost on an intelligent and reasonable level. Certainly there are differences in skills and academic abilities among our children, but both men and women need to prepare themselves as well as possible academically to serve God in our world. Christians of the past, both men and women, have carefully honed reading, writing, science, and other skills to a very high level and through those skills have changed their world for Christ. We ought to have such lofty goals for our children, and gender does not preclude them from such influence.

This kind of thinking minimizes the importance of child-rearing. How does it do that? Every mom is an educator, and she has to call on vast resources of knowledge to prepare her children for life. More education is accomplished in the home than in any Christian School or Public School setting. The environment for success in any area of education is established in the home. If parents love learning, model learning, and discipline themselves in learning, children will likely follow that lead. If a mother is a home school teacher, a quality higher education is of supreme value. I know of very few home school moms who do not wish they had a better educational background to perform their task. It’s not that they cannot be effective, but the education would give them more confidence and save them valuable time. Quality education is the foundation of a higher culture of civilized society itself. If your view is that education’s only purpose is to prepare someone to bring home a paycheck (the commonly held worldly view), then you will not understand the importance of higher education for your daughters.

This thinking is also dangerous because it is presumptuous. We must not presume to know God’s will for our daughters. The Bible is very clear that God’s plan for our children is not always ours, and we can see examples throughout Scripture.

One presumption is that your daughter will marry. Not only is it possible that your daughter will not marry, it might also be God’s will for her not to marry according to 1 Corinthians 7. In that case, it is important for her to be able to earn a living and serve God well. Remember, when its God’s will for someone to remain single, it is so that one might be better able to serve the Lord. “But,” you say, “my daughter is so beautiful! Certainly she will marry!” Of course she is beautiful—they all are—especially to mom and dad. But do you think that God’s will hinges on physical beauty? Of course not!

Another presumption is that your daughter will bear children. Many a young woman’s dream of motherhood has been dashed by physical limitations. But that is within God’s will and for His purpose. Sometimes adoption is an option and other times couples believe God has allowed them to be childless for another purpose. We have had two such couples minister in our church in recent years under just such circumstances. Praise God, those dear women had equipped themselves educationally for ministry that is not normally open to moms at home.

While this is not a pleasant thought, there is also the presumption that your daughter’s future husband will perpetually provide for the financial needs of the family. Many young widows wish they had more marketable skills as they face the daunting task of providing for themselves and their small children. Many bright and seemingly godly young men have followed a path of sin and left their dear wives holding the bag of financial responsibility. Sometimes God allows events that leave a husband physically unable to provide for his family’s needs. A good education (that includes marketable skills) is a prudent insurance policy against the unseen circumstances of life.

Some parents falsely assume that if their daughters face such circumstances they (the parents) will just step in, sacrifice, and meet the need. Don’t be fooled. You cannot presume that you will always be around to fix things for your children. Your role is to prepare your children to live one day without you. In all likelihood they will. James warns against this type of presumption when he says that life is a vapor that floats in the air for a little while and then vanishes. Yes, we must trust our children to God, but we also must not tempt Him.

You must also be careful not to assume that your daughters will always be in that stage of life where they must care for children at home. I praise God that Sandy was able to work and help me get through Seminary. The great blessing was that I was able to get through quickly so that when children came I was not trying to juggle a full-time job, classes, and fatherhood at the same time. Her work allowed our children to have both a mom at home and a dad. Children grow up as well. The day will come when it is perfectly appropriate (although not necessary) for her to work outside the home. It might be a paying job, or a volunteer ministry, but it is a valuable time in life that is worth preparing for educationally. Someone has to be a nurse, or a teacher, or church secretary, or a number of other important roles necessary for society to function and ministries to continue.

Some parents are concerned that if they send their daughters to get a college education they will be drawn away through the lure of money and career. Moms and Dads, please do not underestimate the power of the values that you instill into your children while they are young. If God has their heart, the right kind of education will not be a temptation, but rather a valuable tool in their service of the Holy One.

Dr. Kevin Schaal is the pastor of Northwest Valley Baptist Church in Glendale, Arizona. He is also the Chairman of the Board for the FBFI.

Although Proclaim & Defend is the blog of the FBFI, the articles we post are not an expression of the views of the FBFI as a whole, they are the views of the author under whose name they are published. The FBFI speaks either through position statements by its board or through its president. Here at Proclaim & Defend, we publish articles as matters of interest or edification to the wider world of fundamentalist Baptists and any others who might be interested.

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